Scotiabank’s exit possible this year as BoG reviews license for First Citizens Bank


Governor of the Bank of Guyana Dr. Gobind Ganga on Thursday confirmed that the process was still ongoing to determine whether a banking/financial license will be issued to Trinidad’s First Citizens Bank Limited (FCB) to operate in Guyana.

“The process could take a few more months,” Dr. Ganga told the News Room via telephone. But already First Citizens Global, via its webpage, claims to be doing business in Guyana.

While Dr. Ganga will not say how far along the process was, he outlined that after a “full application” is received, the BoG has 180 days within which to consider and an additional 90 days to grant or not to grant the banking/financial license.

First Citizens Bank Ltd is one of the leading financial services groups in the English-speaking Caribbean. Headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago, First Citizens offers a full range of retail, corporate and investment banking services as well as wealth management, trustee and brokerage services.

Governor of the Bank of Guyana Dr Gobind Ganga

Despite this profile, any business entering Guyana’s financial system, specifically the banking system, needs to get a license from the Bank of Guyana.

The issue of First Citizens Bank needing a license to operate in Guyana came to the fore one year ago when the Bank of Nova Scotia – Scotiabank – announced its second attempt to exit Guyana.

The Canadian financial services announced then that it had sold off its operations in Guyana to its regional rival – First Citizens Bank.

The Bank of Guyana immediately stepped in to say that the purchase and sale agreement could not be complete since it was not notified and First Citizens Bank had no license to operate in Guyana in keeping with the requirements of the Financial Institutions Act of 1995.

“Since then, First Citizens Bank has been providing the necessary documentation for a license which we are still processing and evaluating,” the Governor told the News Room on Thursday.

Once the license is issued, within the coming months as anticipated, it will pave the way for Scotiabank’s exit.

When contacted on Thursday, Scotiabank’s Manager of Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Caribbean Cindy Mohammed could not immediately say whether the bank had switched gears on the sale and its exit.

From her Port of Spain Office, Mohammed promised to provide an update at a later time. Subsequent calls to her phone went unanswered.

Already, Scotiabank has sold its operations in almost 10 other Caribbean countries, saying the banking regulation in the region is too complex to operate.

The Canadian bank is expanding its operations in many Latin American countries but is exiting the English-speaking Caribbean.

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